Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry welcomed Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his Cabinet in a luncheon meeting May 13 in Washington. Following his U.S. trip, Karzai met with the new British Prime Minister David Cameron. Karzai was the first foreign leader to meet Britain’s new premier. Meanwhile, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton warned in an article in the Times that “failure in Afghanistan would dramatically increase the chances of destabilizing Pakistan – and its substantial nuclear arsenal falling into the hands of Taliban or other extremists.” He made this remark in light of a quick trip to Washington by William Hague, U.K. first secretary of state and secretary of state for foreign and Commonwealth affairs.
A new report by the Afghan justice department outlines apparent human rights improvements in the country, including the establishment of the Independent Afghan Human Rights Commission, adoption of the Law on the Elimination of Violence Against Women, creation of the Ministry of Women Affairs, and new media law. A terrorist attack in Kabul May 18 killed more than 12 people and injured civilians, police officers and international troops. The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported that 592 houses were destroyed and irrigated lands were severely damaged by flooding in the Ghor province, where the Regional Command-West of the ISAF Joint Command in Afghanistan continues to conduct flood relief efforts. Afghan ex-combatants, meanwhile, received skills training and economic empowerment through an initiative jointly spearheaded by the U.N. Development Program, International Labor Organization and Afghanistan’s Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs, Martyrs and the Disabled.